“Greedy profiteers” and their allies have been singled out by the acting head of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for their continued promotion of horse slaughter as an option in the US.
“Proponents of horse slaughter like to characterize slaughter as a ‘necessary evil,’ as if horse owners have no other options when they are no longer able or willing to care for their horses,” the organization’s acting president and chief executive, Kitty Block, says.
“Yet research released last year found that 2.3 million Americans are both willing and currently have the resources to rescue a horse.
“Responsible horse owners humanely euthanize their animals when the horse becomes old, sick or lame. If a person can no longer care for a horse, he or she has a responsibility to rehome the horse or, as a last resort, opt for humane euthanasia.”
Americans, she said, do not see equines as food.
“Yet, unfortunately, a small but vocal group of greedy profiteers and their allies continue to try and sell the idea that slaughter is somehow a proper way to end a horse’s life,” she said in her blog, A Humane Nation.
“They want us to allow American horses, trained to trust and depend on people, to be subjected to the chaos and confusion of kill pens and auction yards, and the terror and panic of being forced into a kill box in a slaughter plant.”
Block said Congress had maintained a de facto ban on the slaughter of horses and burros in the US, which ensured no taxpayer money was spent to fund the inspectors necessary to allow the trade to find any footing in the country.
She urged Congress to maintain this ban for the 2019 fiscal year through the Agriculture Appropriations bill, which the HSUS expects lawmakers will take up in coming weeks, until a permanent solution – the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act – was made law.
Block noted that a 2012 poll by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) found that 80 percent of Americans were opposed to the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.
“This popular sentiment is reflected in the laws of a number of states, including Texas, New Jersey, Illinois and California, all of which have passed laws to protect equines from the cruelty of slaughter.”
She said the horse slaughter trade that operated in the US before 2007 had a poor record, with repeated incidents documented of horses suffering from rampant cruelty, severe injuries, broken bones and eye injuries.
“Furthermore, the existence of horse slaughter plants in the country did not stop horses from being sent to Mexico and Canada for slaughter — thousands of horses were still transported across the border each year, and were forced to endure long journeys to domestic plants without food, water or rest along the way.”
Block said there were also important food safety concerns to consider, with horses and burros not raised as food animals routinely given drugs that are toxic to humans.
The European Union ultimately suspended horse-meat imports from Mexico – where 87 percent of horses slaughtered for export to the EU were of U.S. origin – and tightened regulations on Canadian horse-meat imports.
Block said the SAFE Act would end the slaughter of American equines completely by banning the transport of horses for slaughter across the border to Canada and Mexico and permanently prevent slaughter plants from opening in the US.
Lawmakers, she said, should be encouraged to bring the SAFE Act up for a fair vote, and to maintain the ban on domestic horse slaughter and transport for that purpose in the upcoming Agriculture Appropriations bill.
“America’s equines deserve better than to face the terror and cruelty of being loaded into trucks, transported long distances, held in kill pens and slaughtered for someone’s dinner plate overseas.”